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This question already has an answer here:

Do particles ever touch each other during a collision?

My understanding is that they can get really close to each other but never actually touch, is that true?

Another thing I've read about is, the closer the particles get to each other the greater the density of virtual particles until they reflect or particle pair creation occures due to the high energy density. If true, how does that work?

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marked as duplicate by jinawee, Kyle Kanos, Brandon Enright, BebopButUnsteady, Dan Jan 15 '14 at 0:48

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  • $\begingroup$ youtube.com/watch?v=BksyMWSygnc $\endgroup$ – Nick Jan 14 '14 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting overlaping but not quite the collision I was thinking of. Do they overlap during high energy collisions? $\endgroup$ – Jitter Jan 14 '14 at 9:18
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    $\begingroup$ You should more precisely define what kind of particles you are interested in and what you mean by "touch". $\endgroup$ – Tom-Tom Jan 14 '14 at 9:23
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    $\begingroup$ possible duplicate of What does it mean for two objects to "touch"? $\endgroup$ – jinawee Jan 14 '14 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think that's really a duplicate. Two macroscopic objects don't touch because of the exchange interaction between their electrons. In Jitter's question you could have an electron and a quark colliding, so there would be no exchange force. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Jan 14 '14 at 14:30
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Do particles ever touch each other during a collision?

'Touching' is an ill-defined concept in physics as you've correctly pointed out. Perhaps by "touch" you mean "overlap" then yes if interacting particles are quantum mechanical objects then they have some associated wavelength which may overlap/interfere with another particle.

Another thing I've read about is, the closer the particles get to each other the greater the density of virtual particles until they reflect or particle pair creation occures due to the high energy density. If true, how does that work?

Let's consider the EM force, where this is well-defined. The EM force is mediated by the exchange of photons (particles of light). This means that a charged particle, such as an electron, is composed of not only itself but also a field of photons.

Let's imagine one electron, which I will refer to as the 'hard' electron. The hard electron emits a photon from it's field which will return to the electron in order to preserve energy/momentum. The photon can effectively act however it likes before it returns to the electron. It can for example split into an electron/anti-electron pair. However the electron/anti-electron must recombine to produce the photon which must return to the hard electron so that it can still preserve energy/momentum. Because the EM field strength increases at smaller distances with respect to the hard electron, there are more photons and so there is more opportunity for an interacting particle to interact with the electron/anti-electron pair.

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